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Orquestra Popular de Camara: Orquestra Popular de Camara

Paradoxically, Orquesta Popular de Camara, for all its indigenous instruments and folkloric allusions, sounds overripe and self-conscious next to Johnson’s Ivan Lins-ish pop. Granted, the ensemble-including bandolim, accordion, country viola, flutes and saxes, two cellos, bass, piano, vocals and percussion-yields an alluring range of sounds on its self-titled Adventure label debut (first released in Brazil in 1998). Special guest Nana Vasconcelos, with his subtle vocalizations, brings to mind early-’80s Pat Metheny Group. But the compositions, written and/or arranged mainly by the group’s members, tend to meander unmemorably. The darting arpeggios and 11/8 rhythms of “Parafuso (Screw),” by bandolim player Ronem Altman, are an exception, and the carnivalesque ending of “Gaucho-Corta Jaca” is a fun surprise. Ditto the knotty transitional passages during “Suite Para Pular Cama,” by pianist Benjamim Taubkin. The rest doesn’t sustain as much interest, despite its geographical reach from Spain to Turkmenistan.

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